“Upland Kentucky”: Covey Rise Magazine

On the ground next to my spent 20-gauge hull was a shard of coal. It wasn’t a large piece, but its depth of blackness stood out so prominently amongst the brown and light tan Johnson and love grass that I picked it up. Because I was in Kentucky, the mineral made me think of Abraham Lincoln. Legend has it that the Bluegrass State’s most famous son did his schoolwork by lamp light writing on a shovel with a piece of coal. In this way, he logged plenty of time practicing the three Rs—reading, ’riting, and ’rithmetic—and history tells us what an impact that made.

Lincoln was a far more studious man than I, and on this day, it showed. I had shirked all my daily duties in favor of following a brace of bird dogs through Kentucky’s rolling hills and fields. When they pointed and honored, I did my very best to connect on the resulting flushes and put a few feathers in their mouths during the retrieves.

I was in Sturgis, a small town with a tremendous amount of outstanding bird habitat. Located in northwestern Kentucky, the town is a chip shot from the Indiana border and seems to be a stone’s throw from Missouri. In the past few centuries the area has attracted quite a diversity of visitors—the historic Old Talbott Tavern, built in 1779, housed Abe Lincoln, the outlaw Jesse James, and “old blood and guts” General George S. Patton. Imagine having a conversation with that crew over a double Kentucky bourbon!

Another notable man, Tracey Lieske, can be added to that list. In many ways he is equally distinguished in his field of expertise, with his choice being wingshooting and bird dogs. Lieske has been a fixture in the shooting-sports industry for decades and is well known for his work at a number of the country’s top bird-hunting venues. He’s got a stellar reputation for developing excellent bird dogs, a skill set he’s honed over four decades since he trained his first dog (a springer) when he was only 12. Lieske’s latest endeavor is Wild Wing Lodge, an expansive, 12,000-acre quail hunting area that represents his life’s work… Read the entire article by Tom Keer here.